Allentown Police Recruit Homegrown Spanish-speaking Officers | Newtown News of Interest |

Allentown Police Officer Louis Santiago and his partner recently were called to a home where the kids were refusing to go to school.


Santiago, though a rookie, was suited to handle the situation.


He grew up on Allentown’s South Side. He attended one of the same schools, South Mountain Middle, as one of the children. He was able to make a connection with the youngster.


And he was able to connect with the children’s Spanish-speaking parents, because he spoke their language. He is one of 30 bilingual officers on the force of 216.


The city has been working harder recently to recruit its own, especially those who speak Spanish, to join the force. That’s a necessity, as a little more than half of Allentown’s residents are Hispanic. Cities nationwide are facing that same recruiting challenge.


Officials are seeking officers who know Allentown, who know its people, who have an emotional investment in making life better for them.


“I look for anyone that has a connection to Allentown,” Police Chief Glenn Granitz Jr. said. “I’m looking for someone who grew up here, went to school here, maybe their mom or dad lives here. I’m looking for somebody that wants to move here.


“I have found there is a distinct connection between having that connection of some kind with the city and having that investment of wanting to see Allentown succeed,” said Granitz, who grew up in Allentown, joined the force in 2001 and became chief in 2019.


That’s not a knock against officers who grew up elsewhere. They make up the majority of the police force and serve Allentown well. But it’s important to have your own blood represented. Allentown hasn’t had as much as in the past, though it is making progress.